Falling Sky threw his name into the Kentucky Derby picture Saturday with a wire-to-wire victory in the Grade 3, $202,500 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs. In his first start for trainer John Terranova, the sophomore colt withstood the rally of Dynamic Sky to prevail by a neck.
Fourth when making his second start in the December 1 Inaugural Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, Falling Sky went on to post an allowance victory at Gulfstream Park on December 15. The son of Lion Heart was then offered at the OBS January sale and wound up being purchased by new owners -- Newtown Anner Stud, James Covello and James Bulger -- for $425,000. He paid immediate dividends for his new connections while recording his first stakes victory in the Sam F. Davis, which rewarded the winner with 10 points as part of the new "Road to the Kentucky Derby" scoring system.
Overlooked at nearly 8-1 in the nine-horse field, Falling Sky was sent to the front by jockey Jose Espinoza and completed the opening quarter-mile in :23 2/5 on a two-length lead. Divine Ambition applied slightly more pace pressure down the backstretch, a half-length back after four furlongs in :47 3/5, but Falling Sky remained in control through the far turn, passing the six-furlong mark in 1:12 3/5 with a one-length advantage.
Espinoza asked his mount for run entering the stretch and after coming in slightly on the rallying Speak Logistics, Falling Sky spurted clear at the top of the lane. He passed the mile mark in 1:38 with a two-length cushion, but Dynamic Sky still had more to offer in deep stretch. The runner-up was gaining quickly in the final yards, but the wire came just in time for the winner, who finished off the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:44 3/5.
Falling Sky paid $17.80, $6.60 and $3.80 to his supporters.
Dynamic Sky, who stalked the pace in fourth during the early stages, raced a bit greenly while drifting in and out during the stretch run but still closed commendably for runner-up honors. Winner of the January 12 Pasco at Tampa Bay, Dynamic Sky left the starting gate Saturday as the 9-5 second choice and finished three lengths better than the late-running My Name Is Michael, who had to settle for third as the 8-5 favorite.
It was another length back to fourth-placer Speak Logistics, whose rider's claim of foul against the winner for interference was disallowed, and Midnite Poppa, Divine Ambition, Silver Day, Lightning Stone and Balino rounded out the order of finish. Northern Lion was scratched.
Bred in Pennsylvania by Copper Penny Stables, Falling Sky won his career debut at Calder on November 1 and has now earned $164,800 from his 4-3-0-0 ledger. He initially sold for $16,000 as a 2010 Keeneland November weanling. The bay colt is out multiple stakes-placed mare Sea Dragoness, a daughter of 1993 Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero, and she counts stakes winners All Giving and War Native as half-siblings.